Welcome to "Beauty vs. the Beast," a handicapping feature designed to track how the teams that are bet the most and the least at a given sportsbook in a given week fare. Each week, I'll put down a mythical 100 units on each of the games and see what happens.
Through 15 weeks and 32 picks, our little handicapping experiment has amused me greatly, but not nearly as much as it no doubt THRILLS people who enjoy, say, lighting cigars with currency.
Look at the profit-loss numbers. We're in the maroon.
Well, we shrug and move on, in the interest in science.
This week's "beauty" selection is Pittsburgh, which bettors at Lucky's Race and Sports Book in Nevada have preferred to Denver at a "65-35" rate, reports director of sports operations and public relations Jimmy Vaccaro.
The good news for the Broncos' bettors? Vaccaro sees the line going higher. He predicts Pittsburgh could close as a 9½-point favorite by kickoff on Sunday afternoon.
The Broncos have received the least love from bettors at Lucky's, but since we're not going to play both sides of the line here, our "beast" pick is the Bengals, who also aren't getting a lot of play, Vaccaro said. The longtime oddsmaker noted that professional bettors were backing the Texans, who host Cincinnati in the first wild-card game on Saturday.
Should the Bengals and Steelers win in Round One, Cincinnati would face New England in the divisional round.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, would meet Baltimore for a third time this season and the sixth time since the beginning of the 2010 campaign.
Two beastly defenses meeting for a spot in the AFC title game? It sounds like a beaut .... wait, can't do it.
Let's try this: It sounds fitting.
Beauty: Steelers (-8½) at Broncos
Beast: Bengals (+3/+110) at Texans
Lines at Lucky's Race and Sports Book, per VegasInsider.com, as of Friday.
Beauty: -736.36 (4-11-1 ATS)
Beast: -271.21 (7-9 ATS)
Profit / Loss: -1,007.57 (11-20-1 ATS)
"Wagers" to date
Beauty: Week Three (Lions -3) — PUSH; Week Four (Bills -3) — LOSS; Week Five (Lions -5½) — WIN, Week Six (Patriots -6½) — LOSS; Week Seven (Packers -9) — LOSS; Week Eight (Patriots -3) — LOSS; Week Nine (Bills -2½) — LOSS; Week Nine (Packers -5½) — WIN; Week 10 (Ravens -6½) — LOSS; Week 11 (Cowboys -7) — LOSS; Week 12 (Cowboys -7) — LOSS; Week 13 (Packers -6) — LOSS; Week 14 (Broncos -3½) — LOSS; Week 15 (Patriots -7½) — WIN; Week 16 (49ers -2½) — LOSS; Week 17 (Giants -3) — WIN.
Beast: Week Three (Chiefs +14½) — WIN; Week Four (Seahawks +4½) — WIN; Week Five (Jaguars -1½) — LOSS; Week Six (Dolphins +7) — LOSS; Week Seven (Dolphins -2) — LOSS; Week Eight (Rams +14) — WIN; Week Nine (Dolphins +4) — WIN; Week Nine (Colts +7) — LOSS; Week 10 (Buccaneers +3) — LOSS; Week 11 (Buccaneers +14) — WIN; Week 12 (Lions +6) — LOSS; Week 13 (Rams +13½) — LOSS; Week 14 (Cardinals +4) — WIN; Week 15 (Browns +7 / -120) — WIN; Week 16 (Rams +14) — LOSS; Week 17 (Buccaneers +12) — LOSS.